Welcome to our first-ever Greatest Guitarist poll, where 128 guitarists go head to head, round by round, in a bracketed format, all to crown your choice for the Greatest Guitarist of All Time.
We filled 124 of 128 slots with the names of a host of incredible guitarists (dead and living) — players chosen for their technical ability as well as their importance and creativity, not to mention how influential they've been. We asked you to vote in the final four names, which you did. Now the 128 slots are filled, and we're ready to go.
There might be some weird style matchups in this poll, which may lead many of you to ask questions like, "How do you compare a shred guitarist to a blues guitarist?" Aside from how good a player is at their given style, here are some things to take into consideration:
• Influence: Who inspired more kids to beg their parents for a guitar for Christmas? Who inspired a wave of copycats?
• Chops/Versatility: Is the guitarist in question a one-trick pony or a master of many styles?
• Body of Work: Who had the more consistent career? Who has played on more classic albums?
• Creativity: Who pioneered new techniques? Who sounds the most radically different from what came before them?
Round 1 — Today's Match
Voted the fastest guitarist of all time by Guitar World's readers last year, Michael Angelo Batio has become synonymous with over-the-top shred guitar ever since bursting onto the music scene in 1984 as part of Holland. Batio gained much of his notoriety in the glam metal band Nitro in the late '80s/early '90s before embarking on a successful solo career.
Born Brian Patrick Carroll, Batio's opponent is better known simply as Buckethead. The enigmatic, perpetually costume-clad guitarist has earned a reputation beyond his signature stage wear. The eclectic guitarist has collaborated with everyone from Bootsy Collins and Les Claypool to Mike Patton and Guns N' Roses, somehow finding time to release 35 solo albums over the course of his career.
Yesterday's matchup saw Dickey Betts (55.9%) defeat Gary Rossington (44.1%).